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Incorporating Time Dynamics in the Analysis of Social Networks in Emergency Management

  • Jeroen Wolbers EMAIL logo , Peter Groenewegen , Julia Mollee and Jan Bím


Timely and adequate communication is essential for the response to emergency situations. The current vision on emergency response embraces the networked organization as an answer to the dilemmas of communication and information flows in crisis situations. With stabilization of the network paradigm, the focus question turns into how networks are perceived and in what manner they function. We argue that there is a need to attend to the way networks and their functioning are assessed. From the agenda that we derive, we pay attention to the manner in which the time critical nature of the communication during emergency situations can be captured in network terms. The focus on how network interaction unfolds over time is demonstrated by attending to a case of a tunnel incident in the Netherlands. It is argued that a structure-oriented network analysis misses much of the actions and that using the data to probe the communication patterns with additional methods for time dependency enhances our insights. Three approaches, time slices, two-mode analysis and information pathways, are then introduced and the outcomes are interpreted.

Corresponding author: Jeroen Wolbers, Organization Sciences, VU University Amsterdam, De Boelelaan 1081, 1081 HV Amsterdam, Netherlands, e-mail:

We would like to thank colleagues at the Links Center University of Kentucky, SONIC at Northwestern, the Communication Department of the University of Illinois and three anonymous reviewers for comments on an earlier version of this paper. Mollee and Bím where supported through a grant of the Royal Academy Assistants program at the VU University Network Institute for the empirical work and part of the analysis. The first two authors equally contributed to the writing of the paper.


Table 3

Summary of Main Actors.

AbbreviationOrganizationFunctionMain Responsibility in Network (Collector, Aggregator or Disseminator of Information)
AASSchipholAmsterdam Airport Schiphol EmployeesCollect information
AFOSchipholAirport Fire OfficerAggregate information
AMSMedicsAirport Medical ServicesCollect information
CCSSchipholCoordination Center SchipholDisseminate information
DC_SR_KDispatch CenterDispatch Center Safety Region KennemerlandDisseminate information
FEFire serviceFire enginesCollect information
FF_HOFire serviceFire fighters Head OfficerAggregate information
FF_OFire serviceFire fighters OfficerAggregate information
KMarRMPRoyal Military Police District Amsterdam Airport SchipholCollect information
KMar_CRRMPRoyal Military Police Control RoomDisseminate information
NPSAPoliceNational Police Services Agency in DriebergenDisseminate information
NPSA_RPRailway policeNational Railway PoliceCollect information
NS_SCNS RailNational Railway Command CenterDisseminate information
NS_ServiceNS RailNational Railway service personnelCollect information
PSGRPassengersPassengersCollect information
ProRail_BOProRailProRail Back OfficeDisseminate information
ProRail_EOCProRailEmergency Operations CoordinatorAggregate information
RTC1ProRailRail Traffic Controller 1Disseminate information
RTC2ProRailRail Traffic Controller 2Disseminate information
SRCProRailSwitching & Report CenterDisseminate information
SRC_TechnicianProRailSwitching & Report Center TechnicianCollect information
TDNSTraindriver(s)Collect information
Table 4

Two-Mode Actor Overall Centrality Measures.

NumberActorDegree CentralityCloseness CentralityBetweenness CentralityEigenvector
Figure 8 Network Diagrams on 5 min Intervals.
Figure 8

Network Diagrams on 5 min Intervals.


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Published Online: 2013-09-24
Published in Print: 2013-10-01

©2013 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin Boston

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